High Tide (July 22nd 2015) – Daily political round up

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Two top officials step down; Former Housing Director tapped as WKCD chief; “Give Uncle Fat time” reported by UK Govt. Photo Credit: Chris Lusher


Politics (Gov’t & LegCo)

CY Leung announces shocking “removal” of two top ministers.
– CY Leung yesterday announced the “removal” of Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing and Secretary for the Civil Service Paul Tang Kwok-wai from their official posts
– Current Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Lau Kong-wah and Commissioner of Customs and Excise Clement Cheung Wan-ching will replace Tsang and Tang respectively
– When asked about the reasons for the personnel changes and why Lau was picked over Undersecretary for Home Affairs Florence Hui, Leung stressed that he “shouldn’t discuss in public the background, the details, of these changes” and that the Government would “pick the best person for the position”, denying any possible conflict of interest in appointing a DAB veteran to take charge of district level affairs – and elections
– Tsang later made an official statement in which he said he was “glad to retire” while Tang cited “unforeseeable family circumstances” as the reason for his resignation
– It was reported (ch) that the two outgoing officials received the order last Thursday amid failure to coordinate closely with Leung
– Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary for Development (Planning and Lands) Thomas Chow Tat-ming will replace the retiring Raymond Wong Hung-chiu as Permanent Secretary for the Civil Service with effect on September 14, 2015

Rimsky Yuen restates non-participation in human rights petition.
– The Department of Justice released a public statement in response to calls on Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen to participate in a petition campaign against human rights arrests in the mainland
– It was stated that the minister would not be involved in the campaign as officials should not “act beyond their authority and intervene in matters beyond the jurisdiction of the HKSAR”, “intervene in matters that are exclusively within the purview of the Mainland authorities”
– The statement also emphasised the fundamental difference between a signature campaign last May in support of the political reform and the current petition, claiming that the former “did not involve any comments on, or intervention in, the internal affairs of the Mainland”
– The Law Society also refused (ch) to comment on the mass arrests and detention because of a “lack of first-hand evidence”

Former Housing Director appointed as head of Kowloon art hub.
– Chief Secretary and Chairman of the Board of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) Authority Carrie Lam appointed Chief Operating Officer Duncan Pescod as the art hub’s new CEO with effect on August 3, 2015
– When asked whether Pescod was an appropriate candidate, Carrie Lam said the former Housing Director with more than 30 years of civil service was “the most suitable candidate”
– Our Editor-in-Chief Andrew Work had a few words on the appointment (video)

Political (General)

40 women and children record above safety lead levels as Government hints at water contamination as the cause.
– The Government released (ch) the results of the second batch of blood tests concerning lead-in-water issues in Kai Ching Estate, in which 13 mothers and 27 children, among 302 samples, recorded high-than-normal (>5 micrograms of lead per deciliter) lead levels in their bodies
– The most serious case saw an infect with 14.2 micrograms per deciliter
– Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man admitted – for the first time – that the findings can possibly be related to the water contamination in the estate
– Civic Party members will organise a protest as the LegCo’s Panel on Housing discusses the issue today

HK Post the latest institution in fraudulent calls.
– Hongkong Post issued alerts to fraudulent voice message calls with an incoming call displaying the same phone number as the post service provider’s general enquiry hotline (2921 2222)
– The alerts make HK Post the latest institution in a series of reported fraudulent calls related to government institutions and banks including the HKMA, HSBC, and even the Liaison Office

China & World

NPC chairman promises “unswerving” approach to Hong Kong affairs.
– NPC chairman Zhang Dejiang, when addressing a business delegation, stressed that Beijing will maintain its approach in handling Hong Kong affairs to promote a gradual democratic development in the city
– “I am confident with the development of Hong Kong as it is backed by the great motherland and has its own advantages,” Zhang said
– Meanwhile, Financial Secretary John Tsang once again toned-down (ch) speculations that he would become the next CE after the handshake with President Xi Jinping and the applause from Xinhua New Agency, saying that the media have “interpreted too much” from the events

“Give Uncle Fat time” mentioned in UK report on Hong Kong.
– The UK Government submitted its latest six-monthly report on Hong Kong to the Parliament, backing calls to restart the political reform to achieve universal suffrage
– The report noted the bad communications among lawmakers during the reform vote as reflected from the “give Lau Wong-fat time to return chamber” incident
– It also touched upon a deteriorating freedom of the press in the city and an incident in which student activist Joshua Wong and his girlfriend were attacked by strangers